FCC Cracks Down on Loud Commercials

New rules stem from Congress’ Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act and will be adopted by 2012

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on loud commercials.

Starting next December, commercials will be required to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany, the commission announced Tuesday. 

In a release touting the new regulations, the FCC says that its authority to govern the decibel level of advertisements was granted through Congress' 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (the CALM Act). 

Also read: Congress Tells TV Advertisers to Turn Down the Volume

Passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, the act requires advertisers to adopt technology that prevents overly loud commercials.

The rules also establish compliance guidelines that stations must follow to demonstrate that they are eliminating overly loud commercials.

Although distributors can ask programmers and networks to provide certifications stating the commercials in their programming are fully compliant with these rules, this documentation is not mandatory. 

Consumer advocates praised the FCC's actions. 

"We're glad that consumers are finally going to get some relief from extra-loud TV ads," Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said in a statement. "People have been complaining about the volume of TV commericals for decades. The law is a relatively simple and straightforward measure that has really struck a chord with consumers."

As the CALM Act requires, the rules will become effective one year after the date of their adoption, or December 13, 2012. 

The law hasn't gone into effect yet, but it sounds like the threat of government action may have already cut back on ear-drum bursting pitchmen. The FCC said that consumer complaints about loud commercials have diminished since 2009.